Wednesday, August 29, 2018
As many of you know, my smoker is one of my favorite cooking appliances, and I put it to good use throughout the year with briskets, ribs, turkey, pork butts and so on. But smoking isn't just about meats--you can smoke up other foods as well. Foods like...soup.
Yeah, sounds weird, but I've been enjoying some great smoked soups over the years, such as my smoked corn and sausage soup that I posted here a few years back. I've had a pretty good tomato soup recipe for a while, so I thought I'd introduce the flavor of smoke to it as well. And no, we won't be trying to balance a bowl of soup in our smoker--we'll just smoke the veggies first, natch.
4 Large Beefsteak Tomatoes
1 Red Bell Pepper
4 Small Sweet Peppers
1 Medium Onion
4 Cloves Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
5 Leaves Fresh Basil
1/2 Cup White Wine
28 Oz Whole Peeled Tomatoes
28 Oz Crushed Tomatoes
2 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 Can consomme
1 cup heavy cream (optional)
I like to use both fresh and canned tomatoes in this soup. Reasoning: Each has unique flavors that the other doesn't. The canned develop flavors in the canning process that are desirable, but the fresh have subtle, delicate flavors that disappear when canned, so they are my base tomatoes for the soup, and that's what gets smoked. I use four good-sized beefsteak tomatoes for this, maybe mixing in a large heirloom if they are in season.
Half the Beefsteak Tomatoes, Bell Peppers and Small Sweet Peppers and smoke them in as cool a smoker as you can get with mild fruit wood for 1 hour. I usually use a mild fruit wood like cherry or peach for this recipe. Stronger woods like hickory are a bit much for this delicate dish, and of course mesquite would be way too much (I pretty much never use mesquite for anything, despite its ready availability here in Texas)
After an hour the tomatoes will look about like this.
Go ahead and pull them and bring 'em inside.
Use tongs or a spatula or maybe a combo of both as the tomatoes will be slippery and soft. Try to keep the skins on--they have picked up a lot of the smoke flavor so we want them in the soup initially. (we'll strain them out later)
Dice the onion. Heat olivc oil in large pot and saute the onion in it.
Add minced sweet peppers. Dice Bell Pepper and add.
Coarsely mince the fresh basil leaves.
Add the minced basil to the pan.
Add minced garlic when onion is starting to brown.
After a few minutes add white wine and deglaze the pot. .
Add whole peeled tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and the smoked tomatoes from your smoker.
Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Add Smoked Paprika. Simmer for 45 minutes.
After this time, use a spatula to loosely break up whatever tomatoes are still intact, then use a stick blender to puree the entire pot of soup. (you can puree in batches in a regular blender if you don't have the stick)
Strain soup through food mill or chinois. I'm using a fine-mesh chinois like this:
I ladle the soup into the chinois...
Then use the pestle to gently strain the soup though the mesh.
When you've got as much strained out as you can, discard the solids left behind and repeat until you've strained all the soup. What's left behind will be almost velvety smooth and tangy, with a nice slight hint of smoke flavor. Add the Consommé and heat a few minutes longer.
For a slightly creamier soup,add a half coup of heavy cream and heat through.
We served ours without the cream, but with a nice grilled cheese sandwich on the side--truly the perfect accompaniment to tomato soup.
Until next time,